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health care in the drc

While the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is abundant with natural resources and a thriving ecosystem, decades of armed violence have left the nation impoverished. Currently, health care in the DRC suffers from understaffing and underfunding concerns. Moreover, it is only readily available in certain regions of the country. To better understand this issue, here are four facts about health care in the Congo.

  1. Health care exists in a pyramid structure. The DRC government, aided by several NGOs, funds and controls the public health care system in a four-level model. The first level of health care in the DRC is community health centers. These are open for basic treatment and utilizes nurses for care. The next level contains centers where general physicians practice. The third level pertains to regional hospitals, where citizens can receive more specialized treatment. The fourth and highest level is university hospitals. At all levels, appointments are needed to see physicians, and as they also only see clients on certain days of the week, wait times can be long. This prompts patients who require specialist treatment to often see community nurses instead. In addition, USAID currently provides health care services to more than 12 million people in almost 2,000 facilities.
  2. The country lacks health care workers. Health care in the DRC is limited. Statistically, there are only 0.28 doctors and 1.19 nurses and midwives for every 10,000 people. Furthermore, access to health care in the Congo’s rural regions is extremely low due to the remote state of many villages. The northern rural areas of the DRC hold less than 3.0% of the nation’s physicians while Brazzaville, the capital and the most heavily populated city, holds 66% of all physicians. This is despite the fact that the capital only holds 37% of the Congolese population.
  3. Health care funding in the DRC, though low, steadily rises. The government of the DRC has made noticeable progress in increasing funds for health care. Between 2016 and 2018, the proportion of the national budget dedicated to health care increased from 7% to 8.5%. While this increase in funding is life-changing for many, it still pales in comparison to the budgets of many other countries. The U.S. currently allocates 17.7% of its GDP toward health care. The DRC, however, is on an upward trajectory. It seeks to reach a target of 10% allocation of the national budget for health care by 2022.
  4. The DRC’s vaccination rates are improving. In 2018, the government of the DRC implemented The Emergency Plan for the Revitalization of Immunization. The plan aimed to vaccinate more than 200,000 children for life-threatening diseases in a year and a half. While the outbreak of COVID-19 in the nation has been a major setback to the plan, the Mashako Plan, as it is referred to, was responsible for a 50% rise in vaccinations since 2018. This rise occurred in “vulnerable areas” and brings countless more children immunity for potentially deadly diseases.

Despite a lack of health care workers and resources, the Democratic Republic of the Congo is making steady improvements to its health care system. Efforts to make vaccinations a priority and allocate more of the country’s budget to health care each year already yield results. Organizations such as USAID aid these improvements. The combination of NGOs and the government’s new emphasis on health care provide an optimistic outlook for the future of health care in the Democratic Republic of the Congo

Caroline Bersch

Photo: Unsplash

The Congo and Economic Decline: Conflict Escalation and The Need For AidThe Democratic Republic of the Congo, otherwise known as the DRC, is blessed with abundant natural resources, advantageous geographical trade points, and a booming youth population. It is also a nation struggling with economic and political tensions that threaten to tear it apart. Conflict within the Sub-Saharan African Continent is not new, as with many developing regions. Yet when it comes to the DRC, its current conflict takes on several different forms; from systemic economic mismanagement to tense ethnic divisions. The DRC has a series of underlying problems. Both its leaders and regional partners need to resolve should any progress be made. One key issue, however, is the systemic economic decline of the country.

As noted by a UN Economic Commission, economic woes point out several grievances against the current government. For example, they highlight the hoarding and mismanagement of natural resources and inefficient governmental models. The models focus more on federal power rather than balancing out authority to local government. As the DRC borders with conflict-ridden neighbors such as Rwanda and Sudan, it has to deal with incoming migrants and persistent border security threats. When analyzing the economic decline of the DRC, the direct implications on the current escalating conflict must also be considered.

A Flawed Economic Policy and Aid Agenda

One of the central weak points of the DRC is its flawed economic policy. The issues of the policy include the disproportionate distribution of natural resources, lack of adequate investments in capital and infrastructure and lackluster trade agreements. In addition, the DRC has a long way to go before it can overcome its systemic economic woes.

The DRC’s inefficient two federal government barely understands the complexity of localized economies. The federal economy and general stock market are important. However, local markets and financial growth is also vital, if not more important. For instance, while the DRC is one of the largest suppliers of natural resources such as diamonds and cobalt, it is one of the top eight countries struggling with hunger and humanitarian assistance deficits. Analysts argue that conflict and hunger are interdependent. This is due to conflict limits agricultural production and disrupts one’s income. As a result, it is increasingly difficult for economically challenged nations such as the DRC. Due to recent wars in the Eastern Congo and a series of political conflicts around its borders, the DRC has faced a severe brunt in its ability to generate ample economic income.

Violence and Conflict

Violence and conflict help contribute to the economic decline of the DRC. Ethnic violence, the spread of Ebola and high levels of corruption hurt the overall economic benefit of Cobalt mining. In contrast, it sponsored those who benefit from the current conflicts in the DRC. The UN Economic Commission found that despite an increase in prices for rare minerals, the DRC still struggles economically due to inadequate pro-poor development programs and mass unemployment. Nigerian economist, Dambisa Moyo, argues that the fatal flaw in international aid and intervention is a lack of focus on regional infrastructure projects, targeted educational and job skill programs, and communal credit programs. Moyo furthers that when it comes to the DRC specifically, the IMF has a history of giving over 700mn dollars to the developing nation, only for it to be eaten up by kleptocrats.

The individuals are susceptible to several factors that escalate conflict and increase the influence of conflict entrepreneurs. The economic decline of the DRC creates an environment most profitable for conflict entrepreneurs and profiteers. The mass hunger and poverty in the DRC feed into several factors that contribute to conflict. For example, corrupt warlords who prey on struggling workers to militias who target local villages further worsen the issue.

A prime example is the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), an armed group that has terrorized the eastern Congo for years and has brutally murdered over 100 people. The ADF feeds off of two main causes. The first is the lack of governmental authority. The second is the DRC’s insecurity, armed groups with murky agendas and the government’s failure. It is more important than ever that international aid groups take action to put a stop to mass poverty and the violence it causes.

Policy Reforms for the Future

Although the DRC is in a dark spot, the reforms of the government and international community can undertake to help improve the situation. First, the DRC needs to localize its credit lines and monetary policy. A big issue for state factions and communal governments is a lack of financial authority. Ensuring a gradual decentralization process will increase income flow and help legitimize local elections and state power.

The International Finance Corporation, a branch of the World Bank, recently started a program that gave small credit loans and financed new investment credit lines in local areas within West Africa. This initiative helps fund hundreds of small and micro-businesses and shake off the potential risks of debt or inflation. Another potential solution is to focus more directly on local infrastructure investments. Recent studies show the four most effective ways to combat poverty in the DRC. These include emphasizing the accumulation of job creation, macroeconomic stabilization, rehabilitation of key infrastructure and structural reforms for a healthy market environment. Thus, if the following reforms are undertaken, the aforementioned goals will be within reach.

Economic recovery, conflict and the developing world are difficult. Oftentimes, nations like the DRC must resolve a series of ethnic and political conflicts before they becoming a top-tier economy. However, the DRC’s leaders must be aware of the role its declining economy plays in the escalating conflict. They should also acknowledge the necessity of reforming key policy. Reaching out to regional NGOs, the African Union and working with international partners is a step in the right direction. Additionally, supporting bills such as the International Affairs Budget and Girls Lead Act also promotes transformative growth and provides essential resources and support.

Juliette Reyes

Photo: Flickr

healthcare in the Democratic Republic of the CongoOne of the biggest challenges facing the Democratic Republic of the Congo is its healthcare system. The country faces many barriers to adequate healthcare, such as low funding, systematic and structural difficulties, poverty, proper treatment and testing, education and more. However, many organizations worldwide are working to improve healthcare in the country through direct aid and legislation.

The Problems with the Healthcare System in the Democratic Republic of the Congo

The healthcare system lacks investment and funding. As a result, it is difficult for the country to combat prevalent healthcare issues, such as infectious diseases. It also provides obstacles to combatting more pervasive issues such as infant and mother mortality rates. According to the CDC, the top causes of death in the Democratic Republic of the Congo are “malaria, lower respiratory infections, neonatal disorders and tuberculosis.”

Many of these issues are preventable. However, as of 2017, the Democratic Republic of the Congo only dedicated 3.98% of GDP to healthcare. In comparison, the U.S. dedicated 17.06% to healthcare. Healthcare in the Democratic Republic of the Congo requires consistent funding and resources to ameliorate and reduce these problems; without increased investment, these healthcare problems will only continue to persist.

Furthermore, the WHO states that another complication facing the healthcare system is a lack of resources. The healthcare facilities that are up and running are “often poorly maintained” and difficult to access. Moreover, many communities throughout the country are isolated and spread out. For example, the WHO states that 80% of cholera patients are displaced throughout the country. With these patients vastly spread out, it becomes harder and harder to treat and reduce the impact of cholera. Additionally, traveling from one area to the next present difficulties because of damaged and underdeveloped roads, which introduces another barrier to proper treatment.

Therefore, it becomes increasingly difficult for citizens to even obtain access to healthcare clinics and/or hospitals. Factoring in violence and displacement, lack of food and healthy drinking water and extreme poverty conditions, healthcare in the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s is in dire need of support and aid.

What Organizations are Doing to Help

With that said, what are other countries and organizations doing to help the Democratic Republic of the Congo? There are many organizations around the world working to reduce global poverty and improve healthcare in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and other struggling countries. The focus herein are direct, firsthand efforts from organizations such as USAID, the CDC and WHO.

  • The WHO is actively trying to obtain accurate information about population and health in order to properly provide solutions for certain problems. For example, the WHO seeks to obtain information about issues, such as infant mortality rate and the necessary vaccines. Then, they modernize this information by implementing new technology and software to ensure that the data is upkept, accurate and transformative.
  • USAID is training local citizens and communities on proper healthcare treatment and issues. USAID helps these citizens utilize “locally available resources” to treat the pervasive health issues specific to the country. Additionally, USAID also seeks to increase education by providing scholarships to people to pursue comprehensive medical education. USAID also strives to increase funding and investment for healthcare in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
  • The CDC has sent more than two million testing kits and thousands of vaccines/treatments to combat a multitude of issues such as malaria, HIV/AIDS, influenza and infections. Additionally, they have also increased the number of healthcare clinics and other testing and treatment sites across the country. These sites now include five new “sentinel sites for influenza and other infections”.

Moving Forward

Furthermore, advocacy organizations push federal legislation focused on reducing poverty and improving healthcare systems across the world. Equally important, these continual and consistent efforts prioritize allocation of U.S. foreign aid towards these economically struggling countries.

Overall, healthcare in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, underfunded for many years, still requires intense rebuilding and change. However, many organizations across the world are understanding these healthcare issues and taking action to help. While much more progress must occur in order to ensure a stable, successful healthcare system, the progress that is currently underway should not be overlooked.

– Sophia McWilliams 
Photo: Flickr

Poverty in DRCThe Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is a nation in Central Africa with a population of nearly 80 million people, the vast majority of whom live below the global poverty line. While statistics are hard to come by due to the nature of the DRC, there are estimates that nearly 80% of the country’s population lives in extreme poverty. The DRC consistently ranks as one of the world’s poorest, least stable and most underdeveloped countries.

How Has This Happened?

The DRC’s current poverty and instability are rooted in its decades-long history of violence, mismanagement and corruption. This dates back to the colonial era when millions died due to the abuses committed by the Belgian colonial administration. Immediately after declaring independence from Belgium, the so-called Congo Crisis caused more woes for the nation. Even their independence would not stop interference from Europe.

Mobutu Sese Seko took power after the Congo Crisis. He made the country into a one-party dictatorship with widespread corruption, funneling money out of the DRC, and into his own inner circle. Poverty in the DRC grew significantly worse as Seko and his inner circle grew wealthier. His regime was kept afloat by his cult of personality and Cold War foreign aid, both of which dried up in the 1990s. This “drying up” resulted in two devastating wars, both of which increased poverty in the DRC.

The Longevity of Poverty in the DRC

The country began reconstruction in the mid-2000s, in an effort to tackle the growing poverty following the Congo Wars. Despite poverty reductions in some areas of the country – particularly urban ones – recovery efforts did not reduce the overall poverty levels in the country between 2005 and 2012. Roughly two-thirds of the population of the DRC remained in poverty.

Today the DRC is one of the world’s poorest nations, with stunted economic growth and poor development. According to the World Bank, poverty in the DRC is so severe that roughly half of children grow up malnourished, with most lacking access to education. The longevity of this poverty has resulted in a scarcity of drinking water and limited access to proper sanitation. These conditions are present even more often in rural areas. The present COVID-19 epidemic has only made the situation in the DRC more hazardous, especially for those in poverty.

NGO Work in the DRC

While poverty in the DRC may seem insurmountable, there are hundreds of nonprofit agencies working to help in the region. The Cooperative for Assistance and Relief Everywhere, or CARE, is a nonprofit NGO (non-governmental organization), dedicated to reducing poverty worldwide. They work alongside the Congolese government to provide aid.

With 12.8 million Congolese in need of urgent assistance, NGO work is more important than ever. In a country like the DRC, where poverty is so extreme, the humanitarian actions of CARE have made an important difference. This NGO has provided food security to thousands of people and assisted thousands of women to gain access to economic and health resources.

CARE is one of the hundreds of NGOs operating in the DRC that rely on donations to make a difference. Poverty in the DRC is too massive for any singular NGO to tackle. The combined efforts of multiple groups are needed. When poverty is so widespread, a widespread response is warranted.

Matthew Bado
Photo: Flickr

Causes of Poverty in Congo

Despite its vast material wealth, the Democratic Republic of the Congo has long been a very poor nation. Beneath its surface lies about $24 trillion in minerals, but this treasure has so far done nothing to alleviate poverty in this country. Half of the country’s population lives below the poverty line, living on less than $1 a day, especially those in rural communities. There is no single reason, but there are several causes of poverty in Congo that can be identified.

In rural areas, there has often been a lack of investment in basic infrastructure, such as roads, making transportation costs high. Farming methods are often antiquated and inefficient. Finally, there is a general lack of investment on the part of the government and the private sector in rural Congo.

Disease has always been one of the biggest causes of poverty in Congo. There were about 6.7 million reported cases of malaria in 2009, which is especially deadly to children. Cholera outbreaks are frequent. HIV/AIDS affects 5.3 percent of Congolese. Congo’s healthcare system is anemic, with hospitals often understaffed and underequipped.

The mining industry in Congo is particularly corrupt and is one of the largest causes of poverty in Congo. The precious metals mined in the Congo are necessary for a lot of technology taken for granted in the west: smartphones, computers, etc. Many foreign investors in the mining sector end up signing billion-dollar contracts with parties funding armed paramilitary groups, who siphoned some $185 million in 2008 from mining deals. The Congolese army is also dependent on funding from valuable minerals.

There has been some recent pushback against corruption in the Congolese mining industry. #Standwithcongo was launched by activist JD Steir with Robin Wright of House of Cards fame to get mining companies to disclose owners of the offshore shell companies involved with these mining deals.

Additionally, the Congolese army has been successful in pushing back the rebel M23 faction, creating peace in the region and eliminating at least one of the factions that profits from the corrupt mining industry.
The United States has not been silent on the matter either  The U.S. Financial Reform Act, also known as Dodd-Frank, requires companies whose products contain certain minerals to disclose whether or not those minerals came from the Congo, and show what steps they took to ensure such trade was not financing armed groups.  The Department of State has cooperated with Congo’s government and mining sector to establish supply chains for conflict-free minerals being mined in the eastern part of the country.
The causes of poverty in Congo are myriad, but there have been signs of improvement, thanks in part to the actions of the United States, unlikely activists and Congo’s own desire to see a new day.

Andrew Revord
Photo: Flickr

Hundreds of Thousands Children Return to School in the Greater Kasai Region

The Greater Kasai region is one of 26 provinces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Beginning in August 2016, it was the scene of a local conflict between the Congolese government and a traditional leader of the region, who was later killed while fighting with security forces. The local conflict, however, turned into a confrontation between militias and government security forces, which led to violence and instability among the entire Kasai region.

The violence within the region also had a major impact on the education of tens of thousands of children. UNICEF announced a total of 440,000 children in the five most affected provinces of the Kasai region, who were unable to finish the school year and complete their education because of insecurity. With more than 400 schools attacked, parents are resistant to keep sending their children to school, leading to more than 150,000 children missing out on education.

Conflicts have also affected health systems within the region, as one in three health centers got destroyed, increasing the risks of disease among children. The main goal was then to help hundreds of thousands of children return to school in the Greater Kasai region. UNICEF started a campaign and achieved this goal at the start of the 2017 school year.

In addition to encouraging parents to get their children back into the classroom, this campaign allowed for the distribution of school materials for children and training for a total of 2,750 teachers in peace-education and psychosocial support. This back-to-school campaign has also raised awareness among communities regarding the risks within the classroom that are related to mines and war remnants.

UNICEF has also responded to the Greater Kasai region with other major projects geared toward health, nutrition, protection and education. Previously detained in the Kasai region, 384 children were released through the help of UNICEF, as well.

As hundreds of thousands of children return to school in the Greater Kasai region, hope for a better future returns in terms of education, safety and healthcare. As violence decreases and peace makes a fragile return, the Kasai region is on a better path for success.

Sarah Soutoul

Photo: Flickr

Common Diseases in The Democratic Republic of Congo
The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is a country located in Central Africa and has a population of 69.6 million people. With a GDP per capita of $753, the DRC is one of the poorest countries in the world. Half the country’s population lives below the poverty line, and most of the nation’s poor lives in rural areas, working as farmers and fishers. Common diseases in the Democratic Republic of the Congo are also a major plight.

From 1997 to 2003, the country was engulfed in a civil war, and other African countries also became involved. The war’s central cause was a desire for possession over the DRC’s mineral wealth, water and food. It also gravely damaged the DRC’s infrastructure. Today, there is still violence due to political instability, which makes it difficult for aid workers to access the area.

Additionally, a multitude of diseases devastates the nation. Common diseases in the Democratic Republic of the Congo include malaria, diarrheal diseases from lack of clean water, measles and cholera.

Both diarrhea and cholera in the DRC stem from a lack of adequate sanitation and safe water. In the DRC, less than 25% of people have access to clean water. Cholera outbreaks occur frequently.

The country has seen an epidemic of measles, as well, and NGOs like Médecins Sans Frontières, or Doctors Without Borders (MSF), have vaccinated millions of children. Malaria is yet another major problem and is the leading cause of death in the DRC.

Many NGOs have stepped in to help the Congolese. The area also suffers from a lack of hospital equipment and a shortage of staff. MSF has built treatment centers for cholera, and UNICEF has created the Healthy Villages program. This program aims to bring better sanitation and safe water to villages. Currently, 3,275 villages in the DRC are taking part in the Healthy Villages program.

MSF has addressed the problem of malaria by offering support to seven health centers with the aim of treating common diseases in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The Center for Disease and Control (CDC) actively fights against malaria in the DRC under the U.S. President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI). It provides the Congolese people with long-lasting mosquito nets, prevents women from developing malaria while pregnant and improves the care of infected patients.

Anna Gargiulo

Photo: Flickr

hunger in the Democratic Republic of the Congo
Despite recent economic growth, millions of people in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) experience severe malnutrition, chronic food insecurity and inadequate housing.

Following the 2009 global economic slump, the DRC has performed at an exceptional rate compared to other countries in sub-Saharan Africa. During 2010-2014, the country posted an average GDP growth rate of 7.7 percent.

The impressive economic output is ascribed to a robust export-based economy, along with renewed public investment from domestic and international sources.

Although the DRC has reduced poverty by eight percent since 2005, it is still marked as one of the poorest and most poverty-stricken countries in the globe.

The acute conditions are attributed to a legacy of political upheaval, economic mismanagement and localized conflict since independence in the 1960s.

Resources that should have provided the solution to hunger in the Democratic Republic of the Congo were misappropriated during the period from 1965-1997 under Joseph Mobutu Sese Seko. Furthermore, nutritional crises were not prioritized as the Second Congo War consumed the country.

Consequently, hunger in the Democratic Republic of the Congo has festered to a critical rate. Nearly half of the country’s children under five are stunted; 3 million children under five years of age suffer from acute malnutrition and 47 percent of children under the age of five and 38 percent of women suffer from anemia.

Since 2010, the World Bank has collaborated with the DRC government to implement economic reform, which includes increased transparency measures through the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI).

Reforms also aim to reduce hunger in the Democratic Republic of the Congo by increasing its capacity to effectively disperse the most basic of provisional goods — water and food.

Although the economic improvements bring a renewed sense of hope, it is unlikely that the acute issue of malnutrition will be resolved until the systemic failures of Congolese security are addressed.

About 70 million hectares of arable land is besieged by conflict. Making an earnest effort to resolve hunger in the Democratic Republic of the Congo is at best bleak without an equally serious effort to remove conflict from the country.

Adam George

Photo: Flickr

Yellow Fever in the DRC
While mosquito bites are rarely more than a summer nuisance for the average American, they can be carriers of dangerous illnesses. This year, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is facing an outbreak of yellow fever.

By August, there were 5,000 suspected cases and 400 reported deaths across the DRC and Angola. Yellow fever is difficult to diagnose because symptoms closely resemble other illnesses and vary from patient to patient.

Fortunately, World Health Organization (WHO) and the European Union announced that they have created a mobile lab to quickly diagnose and vaccinate people to stop the disease in the DRC.

The mobile lab was dispatched in mid-July with five technicians from Italy and Germany. Quick, accurate blood tests are crucial.

This mosquito-transmitted disease can become so prolific because most infected people never show symptoms, and risk exporting the illness or continuing to allow mosquitoes to spread it in crowded subtropical areas. Now tests can be done on site, which reduces the time wasted for transporting samples.

Those who develop symptoms after the incubation period experience fever, chills, aches, nausea and weakness. Unfortunately, 15 percent of people develop a serious form of the disease that leads to bleeding, jaundice, organ failure and death in 20 to 50 percent of cases. There is no cure, only prevention and palliative treatment.

The technicians have a tough job because of the sheer number of people affected by yellow fever in the DRC. Unfortunately, preventative measures like bug repellent and protective clothing only go so far against the persistent parasite.

The good news is a vaccine that provides lifelong immunity exists. To keep the disease out of the DRC, visitors are required to get the vaccine before entering the country.

The bad news is that the vaccine is expensive and the epidemic is straining the supply. Currently, there are only 6 million doses of the vaccine and it will take a year to make more. Reuters ominously reports that time and resources are not on the EU’s side in the face of this epidemic.

WHO and the EU remain positive. The mobile labs can get results to 50 to 100 people in a day. WHO is training lab technicians in DRC and Angola to continue accurate testing after the EU’s program ends.

Dr. Formerly explains, “Aside from getting patients on the right treatment, faster diagnosis helps to plan the response better, such as identifying where to conduct mass vaccination campaigns in the affected countries.”

Mass vaccinations have been effective in slowing the spread and tests will help. Without a cure, prevention is the only way to stop the disease.

The EU and WHO have been splitting each dose into fifths. While this does not provide lifelong immunity to yellow fever that the full vaccine provides, it does protect recipients for a year. The mobile lab program is a great step towards ending this epidemic.

Jeanette I. Burke

Photo: Flickr

Uganda Refugees
A landlocked country located between Kenya, South Sudan, Rwanda, Tanzania and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Uganda is an East African Nation that has been constantly plagued by violence. Since gaining its independence from Great Britain in 1962, the Ugandan people have been forced to deal with dictatorships, military coups, wars and a 20-year insurgency from the Lord’s Resistance Army.

The nations that border the country of Uganda are additionally tormented with instability and violence which have pushed many people into the country.

Here are 10 interesting facts that you may not know about Uganda refugees:

  1. As of 2016, there are 512,000 documented asylum seekers and refugees in the country of Uganda.
  2. Uganda refugees are slowly outnumbering the current citizen population within Uganda. In Uganda, areas like the Adjumani district expect to see the number of people seeking refuge in the country exceed the number of local inhabitants.
  3. Local farmers are in conflict with Uganda refugees. With Uganda refugee populations increasing every day, many farmers find themselves with little land to grow crops. This is due in part to the fact that the government takes portions of land from farmers in order to make room for the incoming people. This seizing of land for asylum seekers creates internal conflicts between local farmers and people seeking refuge.
  4. Roughly 85% of refugees entering the country are women and children.
  5. Migration into cities has left Uganda refugees at a cultural disadvantage. Although Uganda has warmly welcomed people seeking refuge, cultural barriers still pose a major obstacle to Uganda refugees. Barriers such as language, adapting to Uganda’s culture, stereotypes and general safety simultaneously affect the everyday lives of Uganda refugees.
  6. Uganda has hosted approximately 550,000 refugees as of July 2016. Of the 550,000 refugees, 315,000 are asylum seekers from South Sudan, while an additional 200,000 individuals are from the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
  7. Uganda does not question or interrogate people seeking refuge. With constant violence on the borders of Uganda, millions of people have fled their countries in order to escape unimaginable horrors.
  8. The U.N. Refugee Agency has acknowledged the nation of Uganda as having exceptional policies regarding refugees. In 2006, the country passed a Refugee act that provided refugees with employment, education, right to property, dignity and overall self-sufficiency; Uganda implemented policies that allow people seeking refuge to work in order to contribute to the nation’s economy.
  9. The continuity of violence in areas, like South Sudan, increased refugee migration into Uganda, which has overwhelmed local aid agencies. Overcrowding has become a serious issue in areas like Adjumani, which is home to the Nyumanzi reception center for refugees, as a result. The reception center is supposed to host up to 3,500 individuals; however, overcrowding in Nyumanzi has led to over 8,000 people residing at the reception center.
  10. There are many Uganda refugees that still cling to the idea that they are able to return home and resume the life they once had. A quote from a refugee who fled from Burundi, Cedric Mugisha, states, “In Burundi, I have a life, my life was promising. I miss my family, I don’t know where they are, and I don’t know what happened to my friends.”

Though many refugees have experienced tremendous hardships and trials while fleeing from their homes to Uganda, many positive efforts are underway in order to improve their quality of life. The Uganda government and humanitarian organizations, such as the U.N. Refugee Agency, are continuously providing aid and support for the many Uganda refugees.

Shannon Warren